Adam Wylie’s eyes welled with tears as Emra slowly made her way toward him.
Kneeling down he grabbed up the thin Belgian Malinois, his hands pressing deeply into her tan fur.
“Hi baby girl,” he whispered as she stole a lick on his face.
It has been three years since Wylie and Emra last saw each other in person; although they did facetime each other once about six months ago.
Wylie, a staff sergeant with the U.S. Air Force, worked with Emra from 2012 to 2014 in South Korea. Wylie was Emra’s handler. They were responsible for performing patrol duties, being stationed around Pyeongtaek and Osan Air Base deterring incursions by enemy personnel.
Wylie and Emra also performed safety sweeps during visits from top U.S. officials, including President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
“She means the absolute world to me,” Wylie said. “I was sent to South Korea about 25 days after the birth of our daughter. Emra was one of the first individuals I came into contact with. She was also the one I looked to for emotional support with my family being so far away. We worked 12 to 13-hour shifts and she was the only person I had to talk to.”
On Thursday, Wylie, 33, and Emra, 9, were reunited in Cincinnati. Emra is retiring because of old age and has been adopted by Wylie, his wife Kelly and their 4-year-old Chloe, who reside in Bethel.
“Words can’t express how I feel right now,” Wylie said, holding Emra close to his chest. “She’s beautiful and still shedding. I’m just so thankful.”
American Humane, a Washington-based nonprofit group, funded the costs of bringing Emra home to retire on U.S. soil with the support of Crown Media Family Networks and individual donors across the country.
American Humane’s Amy McCullough said that the organization is happy to reunite the two.
“We make every effort to get military dogs adopted by their former handlers,” she said.
According to Wylie, military dogs like Emra are a great asset, not only for the specific job their assigned, but also the companionship they provide.
“I see Emra as a person,” he said. “(We have) a deep emotional bond that can’t be touched.”